We have had issues with transparency in procurement. How much do we record yearly in loss to lack of transparency among MDA’s?
It is estimated that about 49 per cent of total revenue is lost from the Procurement which accounts for over 79 per cent of total expenditure. This figure runs into about N1.3bn annually, and this has been the story since the year 2010.
We have procurement law in place now. Has that helped, are MDA’s complying?
The law which is Public Procurement Act 2007 is toothless because the government are observing them in disobedience. Imagine a law on anti-corruption drive without a council to regulate and check the excesses. Part 1, Section 1 of the law is non-implemented since 2007, which implies all procurement businesses of government are illegal.
How best can the law be applied to make it realise its target?
We have on many occasions given advise to the obvious. For any law to be effective, you must follow the content to the latter. If the law says appoint a Director General, appoint one, and if it says establish a council, do the same to give it life.
The crafter of the procurement law like other laws of the land, and elsewhere in the world have reasons for certain provisions inserted to help checkmate excesses.
So, the law can only be effective if the provisions of the Act are implemented to the letter. Mark you that this is not working in Nigeria because of interest, and the primary focus of the PPA is to reduce corruption.
Have you done any research about NNPC procurement with regard to contract award, subsidy payment and crude for petrol swap initiative, and what are the findings?
I have not had any official engagement to that effect but we have done an independent review as a procurement group on NNPC and other MDAs.
What is this group called?
The group is called Procurement Observation and Advocacy Initiative, a select group of non-state actors trained under the World Bank/federal government of Nigeria on Economic Reforms and Governance Programme in the year 2010.
Beyond this is that, as a certified purchasing and supply chain professional, we often interrogate these provisions from time to time, and we know that NNPC Operations runs an opaque procurement system that is clouded in controversies due to absence of a clear process.
Each year, you hear audit of NNPC as directed by NEITI, but the results have always been the discoveries of frauds upon frauds running into billions of dollars.
Is the local content law driven by NCDMB a tool to monitor contract award in the industry?
The Nigeria Content Development Management Board(NCDMB) Local Content law is just one aspect of the monitoring process.
There are several other tools that are not applied. For example, how does NNPC conducts her bid processes?
Do we have independent observers to monitor the process annually?
If yes, who or where are those Organisations or individuals, and what’s their backgrounds?
The case of NNPC is unprintable because corruption has eaten too deep into the system that the only option I suggest is that the government should pursue is privatisation of the corporation.
NEITI is working to entrench transparency in the industry, what approach do you think is appropriate to make any hidden discovery?
The Nigeria Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative(NEITI) is doing a lot, especially, in the annual audit as I mentioned earlier and we believe they can do more. NEITI works with civil society Organisations but they are also enmeshed in the politics of procurement in Nigeria.
Why can’t NEITI and other government organs work with professionals and certified experts in public procurement to expose corruption?
That to me is the problem with NEITI and the Nigeria today.
Between the time procurement law became operational, how much do you think Nigeria has saved?
From available data, Nigeria has saved over N2 billion which in my mind is ambiguous because there are no data to back it up. Only recently, we read when the Bureau of Public Procurement(BPP) claimed to have saved the country a whopping sum of N1.2 billion from contract reviews without a corresponding data to show.
Do you just manufacture data to convince the populace that you are working or you use the parameters to provide answers. What level of Civil Society engagement has happened since then and do you have empirical evidence to show you have achieved much?
I do not want it to appear we are blowing our own trumpet but it is on record that the CSOs have contributed greatly in the area of awareness creation, capacity building for both public office holders and CSO actors.
We have it on record also where the DG of the BPP, Directors and staff of federal and state governments acknowledged the role of CSOs in the efforts to curbing corruption through transparent approaches.
What template do you suggest for the oil and gas industry to break age long mismanagement?
As it stand now, I do not think any template will work where there’s lack of political will to do the needful by the federal government. The most beneficial option is to privatise the industry.
Are major oil firms much open to transparency?
No, based on records available from NEITI but I am not particularly involved.
Tell us more about the Country’s struggle in procurement issues and consequences of lack of transparency?
Since 2007 when the law was signed, it is convenient today that Nigeria has moved from a rather opaque procurement to a more transparent level, even though there are still gaps.
The country has recorded viable growth in business transactions and management of public resources.
Of course, there are still the challenge of understanding the concept of acquisition and disposal by most MDAs in Nigeria, which recently also affected the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission(EFCC).